Saturday, 18 July 2015
For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 2 Corinthians 4:5
Paul is continually directing or redirecting his readers to Jesus and away from himself. However, he often uses himself and/or those with him in his conversation. It is a natural thing to do, but charges of either egotism or personal gain could arise if his words were misapplied or misinterpreted. Because of this, he occasionally reminds those to whom he is writing that Jesus, not he, is the center of his theology.
He has been discussing the veil which covered the eyes of those who had rejected Jesus as the focus of Scripture. Then he noted in the previous verse that “the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” Now his words show that the “light of the gospel” is “not ourselves.” There is no personal boasting. Instead the light of which he writes is “Jesus Christ as Lord.”
Early in his first letter to the Corinthians, he wrote –
“For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2
And then earlier in the letter he is now writing he said –
“For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 2:17
These and other reminders are brought into his letters to demonstrate clearly that it is all about Jesus. Personal references are simply life experiences that help make the message of Jesus more understandable, more personal, etc. They are not intended to draw the masses to himself, but to Jesus Christ. To further confirm this, he says that not only do they proclaim Jesus, but “ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.”
Paul always attempted to exalt Jesus at every chance, and he diminished himself and the other apostles to their rightful position of being doulos (literally slaves) to those they ministered to. If they were slaves to the Corinthians, then how could they be egoists or braggarts? Rather, they had only the exaltation of Christ as their main goal and intent.
Life application: When in church, what is the preacher focusing on most? Pay attention to his words, particularly those in the sermon. Are they centered on you? If so, he may be using platitudes to schmooze you. Are they centered on him? If so, then he probably has an ego problem that he wants filled with your adoration. Are they centered on a general “God” without specificity on Christ? Then his theology is probably severely lacking. Are they centered on the Holy Spirit? Then not only is his theology severely lacking, he has probably purposely directed your attention away from what is proper and onto himself. This is because he is most likely claiming to be a vehicle (rather than the Bible) by which the Holy Spirit reveals truth – bad juju there. Or are they centered on Christ? If they are, then they are properly directed words, proclaiming what the intent of Scripture truly is.
Heavenly Father, Your word is given to show us Jesus. If a preacher or a teacher focuses on the congregation, himself, a general or ambiguous “God,” or even on the Holy Spirit, then he has missed the intent of Scripture and he has wasted his words. Scripture is centered on and reveals Jesus. Without that, the focus of Scripture – Jesus – is lost. Help pastors to properly preach and teach Your word; revealing to us the glory of Jesus Christ. Amen.